France is a republic in Western Europe extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest western European country and it possesses the second-largest exclusive economic zone in the world, just behind that of the United States. Over the past 500 years, France has been a major power with strong cultural, economic, military and political influence in Europe and around the world. France is ranked as the number one tourist destination in the world, ahead of Spain and the United States with Mont Saint-Michel being one of the most visited sites of France. France has 37 sites that have been added to UNESCO's World Heritage List. France possesses cities of high cultural interest with Paris being at the top of the list, but there is also Toulouse, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Lyon, and others. Tourists are drawn to the numerous beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions of beauty and tranquillity. The small and picturesque French villages of cultural and historical value, such as Collonges-la-Rouge or Locronan, are promoted through the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France - "The Most Beautiful Villages of France". The Remarkable Gardens label is a list of the over two hundred gardens classified by the French Ministry of Culture intended to protect and promote remarkable gardens and parks. Paris has some of the world's largest and renowned museums, including the Louvre, which is the most visited art museum in the world, but others include the Musée d'Orsay, mostly devoted to Impressionism, and the Beaubourg which is dedicated to Contemporary Art.
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